Capitol to Capitol | Jan. 28, 2019

Partial Shutdown Ends, Conferees Named for DHS Funding Bill


The State of the Union, which has gone through several name changes, is constitutionally mandated. As of 2018, there have been 95 in-person Annual Message/State of the Union addresses, with the first televised broadcast delivered by President Harry Truman in 1947. Read more on the history of the State of the Union address.

The short-term spending bill (HJ Res. 28), signed Jan. 25 by President Donald Trump, funds through Feb. 15. the remaining 25 percent of the federal government that had been shut down, addresses state reimbursement for certain expenses and extends the authority for several programs.

Congress also formed a conference committee to work on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) 2019 funding bill. Conferees include: Senators Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Shelly Moore-Capito (R-W.Va.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Representatives Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif), David Price (D-N.C.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), Peter Aguilar (D-Calif.), Kay Granger (R-Texas), Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.), Tom Graves (R-Ga.) and Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.). The group has the difficult task of developing a proposal in the next few weeks that addresses border security and funding for the wall, and that both chambers and the president will support.

  NCSL Contact: Molly Ramsdell

NCSL Statement to End the Partial Shutdown

On Jan. 24, NCSL and other state and local groups issued a statement urging the president and Congress to re-open the federal government.

NCSL Contact: Molly Ramsdell

Temporary Assistance for Families in Need (TANF) Extended

On Jan. 24, the president signed legislation (HR 430) to extend and fund TANF through June 30, 2019. TANF funding has received short-term extensions in the form of direct appropriation since fiscal year 2010. The program’s funding expired on Dec. 22, 2018.

NCSL Contact: Haley Nicholson

Court of Appeals Denies Request for Delay in Net Neutrality Case

The U.S. Court of Appeals denied a request by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to delay oral arguments, due to the partial government shutdown, in a case with significant implications for net neutrality rules. Broadband industry groups are seeking a reversal of the FCC’s repeal of the rules, claiming that consumers are at substantial risk of harm from internet service providers. Arguments will take place on Feb. 1.

NCSL Contact: Abbie Gruwell

Select Committee on Climate Change Crisis

In case you missed it, Representative Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) will chair a new Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. The new committee, which will include nine Democrats and six Republicans, was created as part of the new House Rules. The committee does not have subpoena power but is required to issue policy recommendations by March 31, 2020.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

Draft Rule on Drone Flights

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released a draft version of a forthcoming proposed rulemaking that would, if finalized, authorize drone flights over people and at nighttime. Such activities are not permitted unless an operator has specific authorization, in the form of a waiver, from the FAA. It is unclear when the FAA plans to finalize this draft proposal, as it noted in the proposal that it must first finalize a rule for remote identification of small drones. For additional details, read NCSL’s Info Alert.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth


The weekend of Jan. 11, Sarah Thomas became the first woman to officiate an NFL playoff game. She also made history when she became the first female to referee a major college football game in 2007, Memphis vs. Jacksonville State.

Proposed Pre-emption of the California Consumer Privacy Act

Joining the growing list of proposals from Congress, industry, and consumer groups, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced a bill that would give the Federal Trade Commission the power to further regulate how tech companies handle data and pre-empt the California Consumer Privacy Act. The bill follows a trend of increasing federal interest in data privacy after California passed its privacy law, the strictest in the country, which will go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

NCSL Contact: Abbie Gruwell

National Commission on Military, National and Public Service Releases Interim Report

On Jan. 23, the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service released its interim report, “A Report to the American People, the Congress and the President.” In 2016, Congress voted to establish the commission to “promote the notion of service above self and develop ideas to inspire more Americans to serve.” The interim report explores universal service, a selective service system and expanding pathways to service. The final report is expected to be released in March 2020. The commission invites you to share your ideas on the meaning of service, as well as ways to increase participation in military, national and public service.

NCSL Contacts: Jon Jukuri and Miranda McDonald

New Federal Effort to Address Restraint and Seclusion

The Department of Education announced an initiative to address the inappropriate use of restraint and seclusion for students with disabilities. The effort, led by the Office for Civil Rights, in partnership with the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, includes three broad areas: (1) compliance review for use of restraint and seclusion and support to correct noncompliance; (2) data collection; and (3) additional technical assistance for state education agencies and school divisions, including webinars.

NCSL Contact: Joan Wodiska

National School Choice Week

With last week being National School Choice week, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos took the opportunity to propose that Congress reauthorize and amend the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, the country’s only federally funded voucher program. DeVos also spoke at The U.S. Conference of Mayors’ 87th Winter Meeting, further highlighting the importance of collaboration between business and education communities to serve students. Additional events were held in Washington, D.C., and around the U.S., with many taking place in state capitols. Visit NCSL's resources for more information on school choice or charters.

NCSL Contact: Joan Wodiska

NCSL in D.C.


The Macintosh or Mac turned 35 this month, and was the first mass-market computer to ship with a graphic user interface. It also was the first computer with a built-in screen and mouse.

Looking for more detailed information about federal issues that could affect states? NCSL’s committee newsletters give you up-to-date insight on:


On This Day, Jan. 28, in …

  • 2001: The Baltimore Ravens beat the New York Giants, 34-7 in Super Bowl XXXV.
  • 1986: Today marks the 33rd anniversary of the Challenger space shuttle, which tragically exploded 73 seconds after lift-off.
  • 1915: The Coast Guard was created by an act of the U.S. Congress to fight contraband trade and aid distressed vessels at sea.
  • 1907: Julia Ward Howe, composer of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” became the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.


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NCSL's Advocacy in Washington

NCSL's Washington staff advocate Congress, the White House and federal agencies on behalf of state legislatures in accord with the policy directives and resolutions that are recommended by the NCSL Standing Committees and adopted by the full conference at the annual NCSL Legislative Summit Business Meeting. As a result of the advocacy that is guided by these policies positions, NCSL is recognized as a formidable lobbying force in state-federal relations.

NCSL Staff in Washington, D.C.

  • Molly Ramsdell | 202-624-3584 | Director
  • Molly Ramsdell | 202-624-3584 | Budgets and Revenue
  • Susan Frederick | 202-624-3566 | Law, Criminal Justice, and Public Safety
  • Abbie Gruwell 202-624-3569 | Commerce and Financial Services
  • Ben Husch | 202-624-7779 | Natural Resources and Infrastructure 
  • Jon Jukuri  | 202-624-8663 | Labor, Economic Development and International Trade
  • Haley Nicholson | 202-624-8662 | Health and Human Services
  • Joan Wodiska | 202-624-3558 | Education